A Travellerspoint blog

Dealing with our baggage

(literally, not metaphorically)

semi-overcast

This morning was a battle of the suitcases as we tried to get under the 20kg luggage limit. My 'precious' suitcase came through with the goods by being the lightest - an interesting turnaround from the initial situation!
Neville bid a teary farewell to McSporran, vowing to return as soon as he could. And then we were on the road, and Belinda and Alison FM really kicked in. The MIA version of Loch Lomond was pretty special, as was the Harry Potter version of MIA. Remix bonanza!
We arrived at Glasgow airport with plenty of time to check in. We were a bit apprehensive about dropping off our possibly-slightly-over-the-limit luggage, but either we made it with 100g to spare, or the lady loved our Aussie accent so much that she didn't want to charge us.
The flight was short and sweet, and featured a fairly lacklustre safety demonstration from our air hostess-man (flight attendant, if you want to be politically correct). We arrived at the Belfast International Airport, which is nothing like you would expect an international airport to be. Somewhere on the scale between Mount Gambier and Adelaide in the airport scheme of things.
We didn't have to wait long for luggage to arrive, but it was a bit disconcerting the way the suitcases flew down the chute onto the carousel. Hypothetically, if you had bottles of whisky in your suitcase, you would want to know they had been well packed. My 'precious' suitcase got some serious momentum down the chute and absolutely hurtled onto the carousel - nearly leapt off and knocked over a nearby family.
We picked up Hanz the VW and found our way to our apartment, where we caught up with two friends - Emma, and The Very Hungry Caterpillar. After a bit of a planning session (which featured a confusing charades demonstration from Simon), we hit the town.
We started at the Crown Bar - very ornate pub with very private booths in which to consume one's beverages. We accepted lollies from a stranger, but since he was a) working behind the bar and b) had an Irish accent, we figured it would be fine.
We had a fabulous dinner at Ginger Bistro (not to be confused with Gingeroot, just down the road). Not only was the food amazing, the service was brilliant. Our waiter was called Seamus, naturally, and spoke rather rapidly, leading to a communication breakdown. At one point, after collecting our plates with great prowess, he turned to Pat and sad "hevyevehplehedbukehroo?" We all smiled politely and nodded as he walked away. I just had time to translate in my head and explain the concept of the game "Buckaroo" before he walked back, said it all again slowly and clarified that he wasn't hitting on Pat. Brilliant.
Before we left, we also made sure to get some recommendations of other places to eat and drink. But more about that tomorrow...

Posted by Buccas 23:43 Archived in Northern Ireland Comments (0)

Beaver hunting

semi-overcast

The day started with an amazing spread - full cooked Scottish breakfast. Eggs, bacon, black pudding, haggis, square sausage - the lot. And so, sufficiently fuelled for the day, we set off exploring one of the nearby castles. Because when you're in Scotland, you can say things like "oh the castle? That's just five miles down the road."
Carnasserie Castle provided us with some excellent photo opportunities - through the archway, up the tower, into the 'throne room', and looking out over the horizon. This is the point at which Neville really fell for McSporran - quite literally. We were quite excited that it was a little bit overcast, and almost cool enough to warrant wearing a coat. I had lugged my coat around all holiday without needing it so far, so was relieved that it had finally been put to good use.
After we had been sufficiently castled, we headed off to beaver land. We found their lodge, but the beavers themselves were hiding. We also found the person counter, and made quite sure that Neville and McSporran were counted for their attendance as well.
We went home via the Crinan Canal, and saw one of the locks in action, much to the confusion of a local dog. We also saw a Mabel and Douglas look alike, who had obviously had a haircut fairly recently.
Back home we stocked up on all the essentials for an afternoon tea picnic - oatcakes, cheese and wine. We headed to Dunadd Fort for some rock climbing (well done Simon), some view-enjoying and some picnicking.
Then it was home again - the boys made sure the Horseshoe was still open and working, and the girls caught up on a bit of reading. Then it was dinner - chicken stuffed with haggis (best one for the trip) and diet potatoes. Mmm... Another very enjoyable day!

Posted by Buccas 00:29 Archived in Scotland Comments (0)

A penny farthing, a picnic and some pints

sunny

Breakfast this morning was one of our unorthodox picnics, with food from The Co-op. It's amazing the spread you can get for under £5! Even more amazing was the man riding his penny farthing down the hill, cruising along and lifting his feet off the pedals. As you do.
At Ardbeg distillery we had our first ever male tour guide - whoa! It was a fun tour, including two Canadians we had met the day before at Laphroaig. Great minds think alike!
After our tasting (and delicious lunch), we had a very sneaky quick stop at Lagavulin before making it back to Port Askaig for the ferry. It was another smooth sailing, and then two hours later we were back at Kennacraig.
A short drive later, we arrived in Bridgend and were welcomed into the Horseshoe Inn immediately. It was peak hour in there, but Neville caught the eye of a stunning highland coo called Lady McSporran and that was it - love at first sight. Pat made a new best friend, Phillip, who loved having his belly rubbed. After a few pints, it was back home for Scottish lasagna and time to sample our recently bottled Laphroaig with people who truly appreciated them.

Posted by Buccas 00:16 Archived in Scotland Comments (0)

Pat's birthday

La-froooooooyg!

sunny

Today was the big day - Pat's birthday! Well, not really, but he got an email from Laphroaig saying happy birthday, so we figured we'd go with it. And what better way to celebrate than going where Pat had always wanted to go - Laphroaig.
Pat was instantly at home there - from turning the barley, to tasting the wash, and bottling the final product, he did it all. It was an absolutely fantastic hands on tour, and we all walked away at the end of it with our own bottles of carefully selected, carefully bottled and carefully labelled bottles of whisky. To top it off, the guide even accused Simon of faffing! Which led to an interesting discussion of the word "faff" with a fellow tourist, as well a discussion around the Scottish independence referendum. Of course.
Pat then used his 'birthday discount' to make a few choice purchases, and we posed the question to another tourist - how many Aussies does it take to take a photo? We put our wellies on and stomped our way through the peat bog to claim our square foot of land, and also the rent we were entitled to!
We drove to Bowmore for some lunch and a spot of shopping (you may play Islay Monopoly with us if you ask nicely), then dropped Pat at Bruichladdich while the rest of us checked out a craft shop and had further discussions re: Scotland's potential independence (with a Scot of English heritage).
We went back to collect Pat from Bruichladdich, and celebrated his sobriety with a gin and tonic. Botanist Gin, naturally. Next stop - Podsiadly! We invented the Waving Game, whereby you had to guess if the oncoming vehicle would wave to us or not. Belinda was quite good at predicting it, Neville just kept assuming everyone would wave.
Our accommodation for the night was the Storm Pod. Excellent glamping opportunity. A brilliant demonstration of how to use space efficiently, and a true test of our friendship. For the record, we're all still on speaking terms. The owner came down for a chat and told us about his whisky investments before we headed to the pub for dinner and live traditional music. The music was fine, but the sound quality was atrocious - some serious distortion going on. It wasn't long before we were distracted by a local who wondered if we were going to Jack's 21st, and if we would like to buy some cows. He had a microphone on him to solve the sound problems, but apparently the singer wouldn't have a bar of it. Eventually he vanished into the night and we were free to go home and pod off.

Posted by Buccas 14:04 Archived in Scotland Comments (0)

Hello Jura!

Goodbye camera :(

sunny

After breakfast with our dear friend Sven, we met up with Grug and headed out to Bunnahabhain, which felt like a very remote and isolated distillery. Beth, our tour guide, was exceptionally friendly and knowledgeable. Apparently "The Angels' Share" was planned to be filmed at Bunnahabhain, except that the Islay ferry didn't run on the day the crew were scouting for locations, so they missed out and it was filmed in Stirling instead.
We enjoyed the refreshingly open nature of the tour, and were able to see things for real without needing a glass window to keep us away from the whisky. The tour ended with some tastings with three German gentlemen who had stolen our preferred accommodation. And to make matters worse, one had a very sinister moustache. Anyway, Beth made the tastings lots of fun and we all learnt some new tricks. After that, we had a minor battle with the coffee machine and then we giggled our way out of the distillery.
Next stop - ferry to Jura. It was at this point that my camera decided to pack it in and become and ex-camera. My guess is that it was so overwhelmed by all the stunning scenery, it just felt that it could not adequately capture the beauty and gave up on life. Boo. Thank goodness for Belinda and her photographing ways.
Five minutes later we were on the island, and went straight to the distillery for another tasting. We were guided through the expressions by a rather painted woman who startled us at the beginning by rushing out of the room because she felt unwell. Thankfully she recovered and got us through our whiskies. We had been given paper and pencils to make notes on our tastings, but Belinda and I chose to express our thoughts in picture format instead.
After lunch we went for a drive to see the sights of Jura, and found a seal sunbathing on a rock while another seal tried to convince her to get in for a swim. When we were headed back to the ferry, we did a head count and realised that Grug wasn't with us - uh oh! I blamed Neville for not keeping a better eye on him, but we found Grug just sitting by the side of the road and chatting with the Jura locals.
Once we were all safely back on Islay, we drove to Port Charlotte via some very winding roads. Plenty of sheep and cows to dodge along the way! Our hotel was a bit flash, and we pretended to fit in with the businessmen and pate loving crowd

Posted by Buccas 10:21 Archived in Scotland Comments (0)

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